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Red Deer mayor wants to connect with new minister to prevent further delay on shelter project

If Jeremy Nixon wants to meet tomorrow, Ken Johnston said he’ll be there
Mayor Ken Johnston plans to call the new Alberta Seniors, Community and Social Services Minister Jeremy Nixon on Monday to bring him up to speed on Red Deer’s homeless shelter project. (Advocate file photo).

Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston said he plans to reach out to newly appointed minister Jeremy Nixon on Monday to try to prevent delays to Red Deer’s homeless shelter project.

Jeremy Nixon is the new Minister for Seniors, Community and Social Services, as appointed by Alberta Premier Danielle Smith on Friday.

Since Smith has combined the ministries of Community Services and Seniors, Nixon replaces former ministers Jason Luan and Josephine Pon, who were in the loop about Red Deer’s shelter project.

Johnston said he can’t wait to bring the new minister up to speed. If Nixon asked him to get up to Edmonton for a meeting by 2 p.m. the next day, Johnston added he wouldn’t hesitate to jump in his vehicle.

He’s optimistic that Nixon is aware of the importance of the shelter, helping vulnerable people, and getting a handle on social problems, such as addictions, since his father, Pat Nixon, was the founder of The Mustard Seed, non-profit.

The provincial government has committed $7 million to Red Deer’s shelter project, and has allowed the City of Red Deer to pick the site.

After a public consultation process that took much of the summer, city council picked an unidentified site on Sept. 12, but the province later called it unsuitable and asked city councillors to put forward another selection.

Councillors approved another site choice on Oct. 11 and are now waiting for the province to approve this second site.

Johnston believes it will be met with more favour by the province.

He said the shelter as well as the Red Deer hospital expansion are the city’s main infrastructure priorities, so he intends to connect with both ministers next week.

Jason Copping remains Alberta Health Minister after the most recent cabinet shake-up, and Red Deer North MLA Adriana LaGrange is still Education Minister.

The mayor is very glad that a Red Deer representative remains in cabinet while Red Deer South MLA Jason Stephan is the legislative review committee chair.

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